- Temperatures as low as minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit were recorded in Wisconsin on Wednesday morning, part of a wider freezing weather system stretching from New York to Montana.
- Just one weather station in Antarctica measured a temperature lower than minus 30 Wednesday morning.
- More than 55 million Americans will experience subzero temperatures. At least four people have died from the weather or accidents related to it.
- Authorities are warning people that they can get frostbite from spending just five minutes outside.
US cities at the center of a frigid, deadly weather system called the polar vortex are colder than most of Antarctica.
La Crosse, Wisconsin, recorded temperatures of minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit at 5:20 a.m. on Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service.
AccuWeather data showed that just one weather station in Antarctica recorded a lower temperature at the same time. Most were significantly higher.
We have officially hit -30 here at the NWS La Crosse office as of 520 a.m. The wind chill is -54. Be sure to dress appropriately if you're heading out for the day. pic.twitter.com/y80sMDZM7y
— NWS La Crosse (@NWSLaCrosse) January 30, 2019
Temperatures have broken US records. Rockford, Illinois, registered its lowest ever reading at 4 a.m. on Wednesday: minus 22 degrees, three degrees lower than the previous record from 1966.
The La Crosse weather service said Wednesday morning’s temperature may have been the “all-time coldest record for the office” since it opened 23 years ago.
The -30 at NWS La Crosse may be the all-time coldest record for the office. Official records for the office go back to Jan. 1, 2000. The office opened in 1996, so it's possible it may have been colder at some point. -25 had been the coldest on Jan. 6, 2014 & Jan. 29, 2019.
— NWS La Crosse (@NWSLaCrosse) January 30, 2019
Temperatures are expected to fall further over the day. “DAILY record lows for today, Jan. 30, have already been broken in the area with temperatures still falling!” the Chicago weather service tweeted on Wednesday.
And it will feel even colder to the 55 million Americans who will experience below-zero temperatures because of windchill.
The graphic below shows how cold the Chicago area will feel on Wednesday because of windchill temperatures, which reflect how cold the air feels because of the wind, which strips heat away faster than still air.
The heart of the Arctic cold has arrived.
The combined effects of the cold & winds are at their peak today with wind chills of -45° to -60° continuing. The afternoon highs today…yes the highs…will only be -11° to -17°. Please be smart & safe today. #ILwx #INwx pic.twitter.com/3WaRW6SyKR
— NWS Chicago (@NWSChicago) January 30, 2019
The actual temperature in DeKalb, Illinois, at midnight on Tuesday was minus 13 degrees, but the windchill meant it felt like minus 42 degrees, according to the weather service.
It warned, “Temperatures & wind chills will continue to head down, down, down.”
At midnight, Minneapolis and the surrounding areas experienced windchill temperatures as low as minus 60 degrees.
The weather service predicted that the lowest temperature on Wednesday would be minus 33 degrees, recorded at Fosston, Minnesota.
As of Tuesday, at least four people had died from the weather or accidents related to it, The Associated Press reported. A man in the Chicago area was struck and killed by a snowplow, a couple died in a car crash on a snow-covered road in Indiana, and a man in Milwaukee was found frozen to death in a garage.
The weather service and other services have been advising the public on ways to stay safe, including wearing extra layers to prevent frostbite.
The weather service warned on Tuesday that people could get frostbite and hypothermia after spending as little as five minutes outside.
These extremely cold conditions are life-threatening. Frostbite can occur on exposed skin within 5 minutes. Even hypothermia can occur if precautions are not taken. Graphic courtesy of @fema #MNwx #WIwx pic.twitter.com/w5JgIpJTCr
— NWS Twin Cities (@NWSTwinCities) January 30, 2019
Chicago Public Health advised: “Chicago, take extra precautions to stay warm & avoid hypothermia & frostbite. Avoid unnecessary trips outside, and if it is necessary to go outside, wear several loose fitting layers of warm clothing. Make sure your cell phone is charged & keep a blanket in your car.”
Police stations in Chicago also opened their doors to people who need to escape the cold.
More than 1,700 flights were canceled early Wednesday, largely out of O’Hare International Airport and Chicago Midway International Airport, according to flight-tracking site FlightAware.
Hundreds of public schools and several large universities, from North Dakota to Pennsylvania, canceled classes Tuesday or planned to do so Wednesday, the AP reported, while the US Postal Service said it was suspending services in some places because it wouldn’t be safe for staff to go outside.
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